AltaVista, Google Remove Controversial Links
AltaVista and Google will remove from their search engines hyperlinks to a Web site with articles detailing how to sabotage railway systems after Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway operator, threatened to take legal action.
The Web address for the site, which contains articles from Radikal, a German-language, left-wing extremist publication that is illegal in Germany, will be put on AltaVista's "banned list," AltaVista spokesperson Karl Gregory says. It will be about three days before the site will stop showing up on
"We have indeed removed the links from our site and are in the process of resolving the matter with Deutsche Bahn," she said late Wednesday.
The Google caching feature, which stores a snapshot of Web pages, is intended to let users view sites when they are inaccessible due to technical problems, not when they have been taken down, McCaffrey says. The original site where the articles appeared was taken down earlier this week following a court order.
"In this case the site has been taken down and we received a request to remove the link and the cache, with which we have decided to comply," she says.
Deutsche Bahn announced Tuesday that it would sue AltaVista, of Palo Alto, California, and the company's rivals, Yahoo and Google, if they did not remove hyperlinks to two articles published under the headline "A handbook for destruction of railroad transport of all kinds." The German railway operator requested removal by e-mail.
Google was to be sued on Wednesday, but was given an extension until Thursday because of a legal technicality, says Christian Schreyer, head of the legal department for media and competition law at Deutsche Bahn in Berlin. The legal team advised the company to wait and send Google a hard copy of the removal request in addition to the e-mail because the e-mail might not hold up in court.
"Our lawyers have given Google a last deadline, until tomorrow. If Google does not answer us, we will probably file a lawsuit," Schreyer said Wednesday, before Google complied and removed the links.
A Germany-based spokesperson for Yahoo of Sunnyvale, California, the only remaining company that had not complied, but uses Google for its search functionality, had no comment.
The action against the search engine companies comes shortly after Deutsche Bahn won a case in the Amsterdam District Court forcing Internet service provider XS4ALL Internet of Diemen, Netherlands, to block access to the Radikal articles hosted on its servers.
Deutsche Bahn wants the search engine links removed because they "advertise" the handbook for destruction.
Deutsche Bahn if it files suit will do so in Germany, where all three search engine companies have subsidiaries. The company feels it would not stand a chance in a U.S. courtroom